Jarryd Hayne has never seen it this bad in all his years at Parramatta.
There were tears in the Eels' sheds for a second straight week on Friday night after their 24-14 loss to the New Zealand Warriors – the final nail in the club's final hopes. To make matters worse, Beau Scott suffered a suspected ACL injury that is likely to draw the curtain on his decorated 14-year career.
And then on Saturday, the Eels officially parted company with Kenny Edwards after his latest off-field drama.
Hayne never envisaged his comeback to the Eels beginning so poorly, especially with the club tipped to push for the title.
"But there's no other crew I'd rather do this with,'' Hayne told Fairfax Media. "For what has happened to us and how bad we've gone, this squad is the tightest I've ever been in at Parra. They're not giving up.
"It's probably why they're so emotional after the game. I've never seen guys get so emotional. There were tears last week. Even Friday night. It's been hectic. You couldn't have written a worse script. But we all love playing with each other. It's genuine. That's why the results are so frustrating, even for the blokes who aren't playing. It's killing us. I've been in teams where it's nowhere near as bad as this [with results], but from a change-room point of view we were."
As revealed by Fairfax Media last week, Edwards was going to be shown the door after misleading Parramatta over his latest off-field incident. Edwards is expected to plead guilty to driving on a suspended licence, a matter that was mentioned in Fairfield Local Court on Tuesday. In itself, it isnt a sackable offence, but the fact that Edwards wasnt fully transparent about it – coupled with his long rap sheet – meant he likely wouldnt play for the club again. It now appears his NRL career is over.
"Today Kenny Edwards, through his management company, requested a release from his NRL playing contract with Parramatta National Rugby League Club Pty Limited,” Eels CEO Bernie Gurr said. “This release was granted by the club effective immediately. We thank Kenny for his on-field contribution during his time with our club and we wish Kenny and his family all the very best in the future."
Speaking after the Warriors loss, Eels coach Brad Arthur said his players dished up "dumb footy", and while the effort was good, "effort is not enough to win an NRL game against good teams". Supporters will be delighted about the bond Hayne spoke of, but they'd rather a few more wins. Those same fans will also need to wait a little longer for Hayne to return from a hip injury, with the Knights game in 11 days time more realistic than next Thursday's trip to Brisbane.
"I won't rush it like last time, I'm running, it's just when I step off and need to put all my weight through the leg,'' Hayne said. "Little things like moving back and forth and turning, that's where it [struggles]. But I'm able to do more repetitions every session."
Hayne played with Scott for NSW and was devastated for the tough back-rower, especially if the scans confirmed the worst.
"Any season-ending injury is devastating, and for someone like him, it's hard to take,'' Hayne said. "He goes after blokes in defence and is rock solid. It's just an emotional time. We're out there working our arses off, we've had some heavy meetings, you want something so bad but you don't know why it's not gelling. The wheel has to turn. We don't know how it will turn, but shit, it's got to turn.''
Meanwhile, Warriors winger David Fusitu'a was a joy to watch against the Eels, with his 11th try in 11 games featuring one of the great finishes you will see all season. There was a throwaway line during the TV coverage about Fusitu'a and how he would have handled the NFL.
Hayne, the former San Francisco 49er, said: "Some of those balls he was catching tonight were ridiculous. Even the other winger [Ken Maumalo], they're giants. It reminded me when I was playing as a kid against some of the Polynesian boys and you'd ask to check their birthday. Fusitu'a's hands are like mits. His hands are as good as I've seen. He caught a forward pass out there with one hand."
Along with Hayne, lock Nathan Brown (ankle) is expected back in a fortnight.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.
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